Even when you’re 70, society keeps dishing unsolicited advice about how you should behave, what you should do, how you should look. Bright red lippy and a confident smile and stride aren’t part of the conventional picture. In essence, the message is to get yourself out of the picture altogether or, at the very least, content yourself with a place on the sidelines.
Tricia Cusden is on a mission to change that stale, old script. Five years ago, when she was 65, she got fed up with all the ‘anti-ageing’ marketing malarkey in makeup. Not only did these concoctions do little for her mature skin, the inferred message that older women should retreat and fade-to-beige left her fuming.
She’s an influential pro-age activist now, with a makeup brand - Look Fabulous Forever - a book, a blog, and a YouTube channel seen by millions. Her words, makeup and video tutorials are loved by older women the world over. Products from her line are so popular, they made it into the goody bags at this year's Academy Awards in Hollywood.
Note for the keen-eared: Tricia’s had a birthday since we spoke in November, 2017. She's 70 and, you bet, wearing scarlet lippy whenever she fancies.
Hear what when:
00.32 Why Tricia started Look Fabulous Forever, what’s different about older skin
03.35 Menopause 'mirror avoidance'
“If you look in the mirror and just make friends with that face you can say ‘this is how i look now and it’s fine’.. accept yourself. The alternative is not to still be around. Ageing is a privilege not accorded to everyone.”
05.00 Sees no contradiction in loving makeup and loathing ageism
05.32 The restorative power of makeup
“I love to hear stories of women in hospital who know they are getting better when they want to put their lipstick back on. Caring for yourself and the way you appear to the world is a signifier of mental health.”
07.31 Strategy when setting up makeup brand was to use it as a platform to fight age discrimination
09.50 Lipstick can be an "act of defiance" when times are tough
10.27 One of her star employees was hired at 58 after getting not one interview from 200 job applications
12.24 Dysfunctional recruitment systems that shut out +50s “such a waste of talent”
14.30 Family circumstances that presented her with an existential crisis that reminded her of fragility of life
17.39 Positive feedback from audiences at speaking engagements - daughter jokes *“How inspirational were you today Mum?”**
18.50 Importance of doing what you decide is of value
"I have enormous energy and excitement and enthusiasm... Things don’t change inside, you're always the same person. But I'm amazed at how much energy I’ve got for this. I really don’t get tired..and I think that's because I love it, it's a passion."
19.12 The happy prospect of post-menopausal 'second wind' after challenges and confidence knocks of menopause
21.54 Wisdom to share with 25-year-old self?
- Look Fabulous Forever
- Tricia’s blog
- Tricia on YouTube
- Tricia's book - Living the Life More Fabulous: Beauty, Style and Empowerment for Older Women
Follow The Big Middle
Hosted + produced by Susan Flory with technical help from Adam@Bespoken Podcasting, Cape Town
Music: “Beautiful Day” by Sahin Koc